Thursday, February 22, 2018

27 Days of Oscar, Day 17: Fighting the queer fight and Production Design


Reading that headline makes me laugh a bit. "Fighting the queer fight and Production Design." Not quite the perfect combination...but alas, that's where we are here today at Awards Wiz.

Yesterday it really started to hit me that Oscar season is almost over.  I have yet to see "Black Panther" and am highly anticipating Alex Garland's follow up to "Ex Machina," "Annihilation," starring the wonderful Natalie Portman, and I really, really want to see both this weekend.

Part of me, however, doesn't want to move onto the 2018 year in film. I still have several Oscar nominated films left to see before March 4th...actually, let's say March 2nd. I need to get my predictions done on that Friday at the latest...but even if I had seen all of the films, I wouldn't want to say goodbye to 2017. Not yet.

Last night I finally let my friend Amy listen to the audio of my interview with Timothee Chalamet. It wasn't the easiest thing to do. Although part of me wants to share it with the world (still waiting on word from Timothee and Peter's "people") the another part wants to keep it completely to myself. It is a memory I will cherish...along with the film itself.

I felt something similar with "Brokeback Mountain." I know I will have the movie...and can revisit it anytime. But there is something to be said about a moment in time.

When I rewatch "Black Swan" (one of my favorite films of all time) I really enjoy the film, but I'm not necessarily taken back to 8 years ago. When I watch "Brokeback Mountain" I am immediately taken back to that time in my life, to what it meant to see those two men kiss on screen, and also to the Oscar loss that wrecked me.

There are parts of this season that I can't wait to see end..the things that always get to me.

It's what happened last year with "La La Land." When a discussion about a movie goes beyond constructive criticism, or even think pieces, and into destructive misconceptions based on what very well may be valid personal experiences. It's happened this year with "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" and also "Call Me By Your Name."

You may be thinking that this is a bit over the top...that it's just movies...but this affects people's lives. "Call Me By Your Name" is a film that has moved so many people, including myself. I've seen so many young people embrace it on twitter, which is fantastic. I'm so happy they have a movie like this to see on the big screen.

BUT...in a day and age when a city in Mississippi can unconstitutionally deny its Queer citizens a parade, it is beyond frustrating to see the film miscategorized as something salacious and wrong. The ignorance surrounding this vocal minority is damming the same people they are trying to "protect."

I call bull shit. As someone who experienced the exact thing these "saviours" are preaching against I can tell you that they DO NOT KNOW ANYTHING.

If you are a young LGBTQ person who loved the film, who feels less than, who can't believe that we are still living in an age of blatant homophobia and false righteousness, you are safe here on this site. You matter. And it will get better.

So, yeah...that part I can't wait to see end.

I had planned on looking at the Supporting Acting categories today, but honestly, after contemplating all of that, I don't want to write about a category in which Michael Stuhlbarg was snubbed. So let's, instead, look at Production Design.

The nominees are:

Beauty and the Beast
Blade Runner 2049
Darkest Hour
Dunkirk
The Shape of Water

I would say that all of these films are worthy to some extent. During parts of "Beauty and the Beast" I was so blown away by what I saw, but there were also moments, in "Be Our Guest" for example where I found the production design to be quite sloppy. I'm pretty low on "Darkest Hour" as a whole, but looking at some of the pictures of its Production Design, it's a bit undeniable that it deserved a nomination. Will that translate to a win here, with the whole Academy voting. Probably not.

That leaves 3 legitimate contenders.

The world of "Blade Runner 2049" is so remarkable...even with its underlying (or obvious, depending on who you ask) male chauvinism, but without a Best Picture nomination, I don't see a win here. I have conceded that to a Cinematography and Visual Effects win, but not Production Design.

"Dunkirk" and "The Shape of Water" have Best Pic noms...and one of them is likely to take this prize.  I think the Academy will award "Dunkirk" for its Sound. Maybe for its Editing, I'm not sure on that one quite yet. Editing could be a shocker, to be honest. Part of me thinks that whatever film is going to win Best Picture will take that prize. But either way, I think this one will go to "The Shape of Water."

Will win/Should win: The Shape of Water








Wednesday, February 21, 2018

27 Days of Oscar, Day 16: Costume Design (Shape of Water wins the CDGA!) and Foreign Language Film


I woke up this morning to a shook Twitter. The Costume Design Guild Awards gave its Period Film prize, not to "Phantom Thread" but to "The Shape of Water."

Before we get to that, let's chat about Foreign Language Film.

My annual review of the nominees was published on Awards Daily yesterday. Please check it out here:

Foreign Language Film Nominees: Finding Hope Amid Conflict

I don't really like to go into my opinion on AD...particularly when it comes to a piece like that where I take the opportunity to speak with the directors, but here, I can get a bit more into it.

All five films are remarkably daring in their own way, and although I loved speaking with Ildiko Enyedi about her film "On Body and Soul" much of it didn't really work for me. So, it's out. "Loveless" is so painful to watch at times, with its two main characters having no redeeming qualities. I personally would've liked a bit more humanity with them, even if this is supposed to be a metaphor on what is happening in Russia today. There is an incredibly moving/distressing moment when the parents go to a morgue to possibly identify their son, and the acting is remarkable, but unearned.

That leaves "The Insult," "A Fantastic Woman," and "The Square," all great. It took two viewings for me to really get "The Square." It's hilarious and highly original in both its subject matter and it's pace. "The Insult" is the most accessible of the bunch...the one with the most heart.

But I have to stick with "A Fantastic Woman" for now. Why? Mostly because of the fact that the wider Academy votes, and "A Fantastic Woman" has the buzz. But if the voters watch all of the nominees, don't be surprised if "The Insult" takes it.

Will win/Should win: A Fantastic Woman
Spoiler: The Insult

Back to the Costume Design Guild Awards.

Do not panic, Oscarwatchers. This does not mean that "The Shape of Water" will win Best Picture or that "Phantom Thread" will lose Best Costume. It means that "The Shape of Water" won Excellence in Period Film.

This is a smaller group of voters, and to be honest, the costume design for "The Shape of Water" is fantastic. I saw some very ignorant posts on twitter saying that "The Shape of Water's" design came down to a fish costume, and that is incredibly insulting Luis Sequeira's work.

"I, Tonya" won the contemporary film prize. None of the 5 nominees in that category are nominated for the Oscar, which says something about the perception that period is somehow more award worthy. (Don't get me started on the fact that "Call Me By Your Name" was never in consideration.)

"Wonder Woman" won Excellence in Sci Fi/Fantasy Film, beating out Oscar nominee "Beauty and the Beast."

If we look at the Oscar nominees for Best Costume Design it is "Phantom Thread's" to lose.

How might "The Shape of Water" sneak in with a win? There is always the potential for a sweep. It hasn't happened in a very long time, but if the voters get wrapped up in a film (as I wrongly predicted would happen last year with "La La Land") they might tick down the line for that film. I heard Sasha Stone mention on her podcast that it takes a film like "Titanic" to do this sort of thing. Think "Slumdog Millionaire." We haven't had a film like that come along in a really long time.

The nominees are:
Beauty and the Beast, Jacqueline Durran
Darkest Hour, Jacqueline Durran
Phantom Thread, Mark Bridges
The Shape of Water, Luis Sequeira
Victoria & Abdul, Consolata Boyle

This is Luis Sequeira's first time in the Oscar race, which is quite exciting for him.

Not so for Jacqueline Durran, nominated for both "Beauty and the Beast" and "Darkest Hour." She is a five time nominee and one time winner for "Anna Kerenina." 

Consolata Boyle, nominated for "Victoria & Abdul" was nominated last year for "Florence Foster Jenkins" and back in 2006 for "The Queen." 

Mark Bridges ("Phantom Thread") won for "The Artist" back in 2011 and was amazingly nominated for "Inherent Vice" 2014. Amazingly, not because it wasn't deserved. I loved his work and the film--it's just a surprise considering it's contemporary-ness.

I hate to think in these sorts of ways, but I have to give it to "Phantom Thread" based on the nature of that one particular shot with Vicky Krieps in that stunning dress. It's an undeniable Oscar moment. The film also speaks to those of us who appreciate the simplistic design as it relates to character, particularly with Cyril, played by Lesley Manville. 

Will win/Should win: Phantom Thread.

Finally, let's look at the remaining films on my Oscar playlist. I watched "Icarus" yesterday, but only half of "Faces Places." Will remedy that today while also watching "Strong Island" along with a couple of documentary shorts.

12 days, 10 features and 15 shorts. Not bad

Roman J. Israel, Esq
The Boss Baby
Ferdinand
Loving Vincent
Marshall
Kong: Skull Island
Logan
Faces Places
Last Men in Aleppo
Strong Island
15 shorts

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

27 Days of Oscar, Day 15: Visual Effects (Kong: Skull Island) and more musings on Best Picture


Yesterday I managed to watch 2 feature films on the Oscars playlist. The first was "Kong: Skull Island" nominated for Visual Effects and the 2nd, "Abacus: Small Enough to Jail" nominated for Documentary Feature.

It's always scary when you realize that you haven't seen a single film in a category, so breaking the Doc Feature seal was absolutely necessary.

Still waiting for my Foreign Film piece to publish over at Awards Daily, so in the meantime I am going to look at Visual Effects. Tonight I'm planning to watch "Logan" so I can discuss Original and Adapted Screenplay tomorrow.

Some quick thoughts on the films I watched yesterday. "Kong: Skull Island" was visually stunning. The Production Design (not nominated) was absolutely stellar. The Visual Effect, honestly, seemed a bit old school summer blockbuster cheesiness. So, I can't see it being a serious contender. John Goodman is so terrible, that it takes away any sort of thought that he was a good actor, for me at least.

Brie Larson, in her few comic moments was good...but the rest of the time, she seemed wildly out of her element. I'm always baffled when this is the path an actor takes post Oscar win/nomination. Noamie Harris ("Moonlight") is doing it as well with "Rampage." I believe that the actors who stay on their original path (think Kate Winslet or even non-nominated Kristen Stewart) do best. I know a paycheck is absolutely necessary, but what about longevity?

"Abacus: Small Enough to Jail" is fantastic. And the first of Steve James's docs that I have seen. When "The Interrupters" was not nominated for the Oscar, I never caught up with it, and I have never seen "Hoop Dreams." I know it is supposed to be a doc game changer and is amongst the greatest Oscar snubs (it did receive an Editing nomination) in history...but the subject matter! That being said, I love "Friday Night Lights" because it's about the people not the sport. Maybe one day....

So...Visual Effects....
The nominees are:

Blade Runner 2049
Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2
Kong: Skull Island
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
War For the Planet of the Apes

So, I believe that I predicted "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" and "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" to win this category, only to be wrong come Oscar night. I was actually quite disappointed with "War For the Planet of the Apes" and believe that it will lose, like its predecessors. That leaves only one film for the win. And that is "Blade Runner 2049." I had some apprehension early on in the season predicting this film because it, at least in terms of Oscar, is somewhat "Mad Max: Fury Road" lite. Meaning, it somewhat belongs in the same genre family but didn't have the box office success or the major nominations that "Mad Max" had. Now, I'm throwing that out the window. It has gravitas. It's "Blade Runner," for goodness sakes. I think it wins in both this category and Cinematography. If it had a BP nom it might win in the Sound categories as well.

Will win: Blade Runner 2049
Should win: Probably "War For the Planet of the Apes"

While looking for my FF piece over at Awards Daily I noticed that they had their Oscar Squad predictions up. My initial thought was surprise that no one was going for "Three Billboards, Outside Ebbing Missouri" for Best Picture. Faithful readers of this site know that I've been saying "Three Billboards, Outside Ebbing Missouri" v/s "The Shape of Water" consistently throughout the season. If "Get Out" wins Best Picture, I will really have to rethink my very unscientific way of predicting these awards.

It is worth noting that I've incorrectly predicted Best Picture two years in a row. So, maybe I'm completely off base here.

The hive mind seems to be going with "Three Billboards" for BP and Original Screenplay. That's what I'm feeling as well. I can't go against the SAG stat. Out of principle. Because I said last year that I wouldn't make that mistake again this year...so that means I'm not predicting "The Shape of Water," at least not today.




Monday, February 19, 2018

27 Days of Oscar: Day 14, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing (what's the difference again?) and Best Picture, post BAFTAS


Last night we had the MPSE Golden Reel Awards which honor the best in Sound Editing. The Cinema Audio Society Awards which honor Sound Mixing are not until February 24th.

What's the difference, you ask? Well, I'll explain...through someone else. I've read various explanations over the years, but this video really makes it simple, even if the people are a little annoying.



MPSE awards in 23 categories. One less than all of the Oscars, so I digged through them to get an idea of how they might translate to Oscars.

They break sound editing into 4 subcategories. Effects, Dialogue/ADR, Musical and Music Score. Here were the individual winners.

Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing – Effects / Foley
Blade Runner 2049

Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing – Dialogue / ADR
War for the Planet of the Apes

Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing – Musical
The Greatest Showman

Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing – Music Score
Dunkirk

Of these 4 winners, the only two nominated for the Oscar are "Dunkirk" and "Blade Runner 2049." "Blade Runner" takes effects and "Dunkirk" takes music score. Is this a sign that "Blade Runner 2049" has the edge? Perhaps. I think we will need to see what happens on the 24th with Sound Mixing. Most people are saying it's "Dunkirk" for both. Splitting up the sound categories is risky with predictions, and I haven't done it in several years...not going to happen this year either.

The Oscar nominees in both categories are the same this year:

Baby Driver
Blade Runner 2049
Dunkirk
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

These may be below the line categories, but last year when "La La Land" lost both Sound Mixing and Sound Editing we knew something was up! Same could be said for this year...but more the opposite. If "The Shape of Water" wins either one of these on Oscar night it is a sign of strength.

SO...Sound Editing:
Will win and Should win: Dunkirk

Sound Mixing: 
Will win and Should win: Dunkirk

Which leads me to this: "Blade Runner 2049" is going to win Cinematography, right? That's what I said yesterday. Now I'm thinking it will take Visual Effects as well. More on that after I watch "Kong: Skull Island." It lost at the BAFTA and no recent Apes movie has won that Oscar, despite being the "frontrunner." Why? Who knows. But the safer bet, at least today would be to go with "Blade Runner 2049."

Looking at yesterday's BAFTA awards, there is a bit to unpack. Yes...they like to award their own, but to ignore the "Three Billboards" wins (Best Film and Best British Film) would be very foolish. 

I keep coming down to something I've been saying for over 4 months. Best Picture is between "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" and "The Shape of Water." Every few weeks I get wrapped up in the idea that "Get Out" could win as well. It's so brilliant! How could it not be in contention? But the truth it has won NOTHING when it comes to Best Picture. I don't see how a WGA award translates into a win for the Oscar Best Picture. And don't buy into the fact that "Get Out" is not divisive. I have heard multiple people tell me they simply don't get why it is supposed to be so good. I'm not one of those people. It was my 2nd favorite film of the year.

Every frontrunner this year has its detractors except "Dunkirk." (If "Dunkirk" wins, please remind me of this statement.) But the problem there is that "Dunkirk" isn't a frontrunner. As good as it is, it's an also ran that will win in the tech categories.

Beating a dead horse...
I had a feeling Timothee Chalamet was going to lose the EE Rising Star award, but I thought he would lose to Josh O'Connor, not Daniel Kaluuya. Love Daniel Kaluuya, so I'm good with that. It seems that our 4 acting Oscars are set in stone, so don't be surprised if there is a surprise. If it happens it will more than likely be in Supporting Actress. 

As much as I would like Timothee Chalamet, Daniel Kaluuya or even Daniel Day Lewis to sneak in over Gary Oldman, it just isn't going to happen. Everyone is blinded by the fact that Oldman hasn't won before and craft/talent of the singular performance has completely gone out the window. 

But...it will settle after Oldman wins, and just like after David Fincher lost to Tom Hooper and "Brokeback Mountain" lost to "Crash," everyone will know the truth. And that really sucks for Oldman. He would have a better legacy having never won an Oscar than winning for a performance for which he doesn't deserve.

Hopefully Chalamet will give another deserving performance soon and won't have to wait decades to win himself. 




Sunday, February 18, 2018

27 Days of Oscar, Day 13: Cinematography (can Deakins win the Oscar?) and predicting the BAFTAs


Last night Roger Deakins, the 14 time Oscar nominated cinematographer of "Blade Runner 2049" won the American Society of Cinematographers award. It is his 4th win, having also won for “The Shawkshank Redemption” (1994), “The Man Who Wasn’t There” (2001) and “Skyfall” (2012).

I didn't remember him winning for "Skyfall," which was absolutely gorgeous, no doubt, but seems more like a vote of support for Deakins than the work. I remember a bit of buzz back in 2001 for "The Man Who Wasn't There." Back then we were all dazzled by black and white photography, today it's more about level of difficulty. Same sort of descriptors that get tied into Directing since Picture/Director have been split in recent years. "Shawshank Redemption" was a masterpiece of filmmaking. John Toll won that year for "Legends of the Fall."

Looking at his 14 nominations there are two other films for which I think he really had a shot. First would be "No Country For Old Men" in 2007, a year he was nominated twice (also for The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" and in 1996 for "Fargo."

He lost in 2007 to Robert Elswit for "There Will Be Blood" in 2007 and John Seale for "The English Patient" in 1996. It's really difficult to argue against either one of those wins.

This year, he is up against:


DARKEST HOUR
Bruno Delbonnel

DUNKIRK
Hoyte van Hoytema

MUDBOUND
Rachel Morrison

THE SHAPE OF WATER
Dan Laustsen

Let's take "Darkest Hour" out of the picture. That isn't going to happen. As much as I would love to see Rachel Morrison get in for "Mudbound," I think her nomination is the prize. And the Academy isn't going to award a film based on gender. Not this year. 

Is "The Shape of Water" this juggernaut that some were predicting just a few weeks ago? Or is "Dunkirk" coming in for a win last minute? I think that this last minute buzz for both "Get Out" and "Dunkirk" as major contenders is just a bit of noise. I could be proven wrong. I'm not out in LA talking to voters, but I'm doing my best to read the tea leaves and stay grounded not letting my emotions get in the way. 

That being said, this is Cinematography. Much has been made of the fact that the Cinematographer's name is not on the ballot, but this year, I don't think it matters. 

I do think that Hoyte van Hoytema deserves this, just barely over Deakins, but I would have a bit of trouble not voting for Deakins anyway. It's time. (Ugh...even saying this makes me want to shudder...especially considering my disdain for the inevitable Gary Oldman win over Timothee Chalamet).

If I had to predict today, I'd go with this:
Will win: Deakins
Should win: Hoytema

So, I'm not going to have time to look at Sound Editing and Mixing today. We'll save that for tomorrow. 

Let's take a look at the BAFTAs. 

This is the last major awards that could impact the Oscar race. And it could. I am still going with "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" for the Best Film win. Some people are predicting Daniel Day Lewis to win Best Actor...but how can it not be Gary Oldman at this point. 

We always debate whether they will split British Film and Best Film. They might. If anything, they might give it to "Paddington 2!" I would love to see "God's Own Country" get in there, but I think they are going to go with either "Darkest Hour" or "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri." 

Some other things to look out for: Best Documentary and Foreign Film. Will "Loveless" take out "Elle" and "The Salesman?" If it does, that means something.

I am feeling an "Icarus" win at the Oscars...this of course having not seen the 5 documentaries! That will happen very soon. 

Also...original screenplay. Almost no one is predicting "Get Out" it seems. But if this is the film to beat for Original Screenplay and Best Picture (still not there yet) it has to also pass the British white guy test.

Ok, let's get down to it:

BEST FILM
CALL ME BY YOUR NAME
DARKEST HOUR
DUNKIRK
THE SHAPE OF WATER
THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI

Will win: Three Billboards
Should win: Call Me By Your Name
spoiler: The Shape of Water

OUTSTANDING BRITISH FILM
DARKEST HOUR
THE DEATH OF STALIN
GOD’S OWN COUNTRY
LADY MACBETH
PADDINGTON 2
THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI 

Will win: Three Billboards
Should win: Three Billboards

OUTSTANDING DEBUT BY A BRITISH WRITER, DIRECTOR OR PRODUCER
THE GHOUL Gareth Tunley (Writer/Director/Producer), Jack Healy Guttmann & Tom Meeten (Producers)
I AM NOT A WITCH Rungano Nyoni (Writer/Director), Emily Morgan (Producer)
JAWBONE Johnny Harris (Writer/Producer), Thomas Napper (Director)
KINGDOM OF US Lucy Cohen (Director)
LADY MACBETH Alice Birch (Writer), William Oldroyd (Director), Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly (Producer)

Will win: Lady Macbeth

FILM NOT IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE
ELLE
FIRST THEY KILLED MY FATHER
THE HANDMAIDEN
LOVELESS
THE SALESMAN 

Will win: Elle
Should win: Elle

DOCUMENTARY
CITY OF GHOSTS
I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO
ICARUS
AN INCONVENIENT SEQUEL
JANE 

Will win: Icarus

ANIMATED FILM
COCO 
LOVING VINCENT
MY LIFE AS A COURGETTE 

Will win: Coco

DIRECTOR
BLADE RUNNER 2049 Denis Villeneuve
CALL ME BY YOUR NAME Luca Guadagnino
DUNKIRK Christopher Nolan
THE SHAPE OF WATER Guillermo del Toro
THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI Martin McDonagh

Will win: Guillermo del Toro
Should win: Luca Guadagnino
spoiler: Christopher Nolan

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
GET OUT Jordan Peele
I, TONYA Steven Rogers
LADY BIRD Greta Gerwig
THE SHAPE OF WATER Guillermo del Toro, Vanessa Taylor
THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI Martin McDonagh

Will win: Get Out 
Should win: Get Out
spoiler: Three Billboards

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
CALL ME BY YOUR NAME James Ivory
THE DEATH OF STALIN Armando Iannucci, Ian Martin, David Schneider
FILM STARS DON’T DIE IN LIVERPOOL Matt Greenhalgh
MOLLY’S GAME Aaron Sorkin
PADDINGTON 2 Simon Farnaby, Paul King

Will win/Should win: Call Me By Your Name

LEADING ACTRESS
ANNETTE BENING Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool
FRANCES McDORMAND Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
MARGOT ROBBIE I, Tonya
SALLY HAWKINS The Shape of Water
SAOIRSE RONAN Lady Bird

Will win/Should win: Frances McDormand

LEADING ACTOR
DANIEL DAY-LEWIS Phantom Thread
DANIEL KALUUYA Get Out
GARY OLDMAN Darkest Hour
JAMIE BELL Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool
TIMOTHÉE CHALAMET Call Me by Your Name

Will win: Gary Oldman
Should win: Timothee Chalamet

SUPPORTING ACTRESS
ALLISON JANNEY I, Tonya
KRISTIN SCOTT THOMAS Darkest Hour
LAURIE METCALF Lady Bird
LESLEY MANVILLE Phantom Thread
OCTAVIA SPENCER The Shape of Water

Will win/Should win: Lesley Manville

SUPPORTING ACTOR
CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER All the Money in the World
HUGH GRANT Paddington 2
SAM ROCKWELL Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
WILLEM DAFOE The Florida Project
WOODY HARRELSON Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Will win: Sam Rockwell
Should win: Christopher Plummer

ORIGINAL MUSIC
BLADE RUNNER 2049 Benjamin Wallfisch, Hans Zimmer
DARKEST HOUR Dario Marianelli
DUNKIRK Hans Zimmer
PHANTOM THREAD Jonny Greenwood
THE SHAPE OF WATER Alexandre Desplat

Will win: The Shape of Water
Should win: Dunkirk

CINEMATOGRAPHY
BLADE RUNNER 2049 Roger Deakins
DARKEST HOUR Bruno Delbonnel
DUNKIRK Hoyte van Hoytema
THE SHAPE OF WATER Dan Laustsen
THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI Ben Davis

Will win: Blade Runner 2049
Should win: Dunkirk

EDITING
BABY DRIVER Jonathan Amos, Paul Machliss
BLADE RUNNER 2049 Joe Walker
DUNKIRK Lee Smith
THE SHAPE OF WATER Sidney Wolinsky
THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI Jon Gregory

Will win/Should win: Dunkirk

PRODUCTION DESIGN
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST Sarah Greenwood, Katie Spencer
BLADE RUNNER 2049 Dennis Gassner, Alessandra Querzola
DARKEST HOUR Sarah Greenwood, Katie Spencer
DUNKIRK Nathan Crowley, Gary Fettis
THE SHAPE OF WATER Paul Austerberry, Jeff Melvin, Shane Vieau

Wil win: The Shape of Water
Should win: Blade Runner 2049

COSTUME DESIGN
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST Jacqueline Durran
DARKEST HOUR Jacqueline Durran
I, TONYA Jennifer Johnson
PHANTOM THREAD Mark Bridges
THE SHAPE OF WATER Luis Sequeira

Will win/Should win: Phantom Thread

MAKE UP & HAIR
BLADE RUNNER 2049 Donald Mowat, Kerry Warn
DARKEST HOUR David Malinowski, Ivana Primorac, Lucy Sibbick, Kazuhiro Tsuji
I, TONYA Deborah La Mia Denaver, Adruitha Lee
VICTORIA & ABDUL Daniel Phillips, Lou Sheppard
WONDER Naomi Bakstad, Robert A. Pandini, Arjen Tuiten

Will win: Darkest Hour
Should win: Who knows...

SOUND
BABY DRIVER Tim Cavagin, Mary H. Ellis, Dan Morgan, Jeremy Price, Julian Slater
BLADE RUNNER 2049 Ron Bartlett, Theo Green, Doug Hemphill, Mark Mangini, Mac Ruth
DUNKIRK Alex Gibson, Richard King, Gregg Landaker, Gary A. Rizzo, Mark Weingarten
THE SHAPE OF WATER Christian Cooke, Nelson Ferreira, Glen Gauthier, Nathan Robitaille, Brad Zoern
STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick, Stuart Wilson, Matthew Wood

Will win/Should win: Dunkirk

SPECIAL VISUAL EFFECTS
BLADE RUNNER 2049 Richard R. Hoover, Paul Lambert, Gerd Nefzer, John Nelson
DUNKIRK Paul Corbould, Scott Fisher, Andrew Jackson, Andrew Lockley
THE SHAPE OF WATER Dennis Berardi, Trey Harrell, Mike Hill, Kevin Scott
STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI Stephen Alpin, Chris Corbould, Ben Morris, Neal Scanlan
WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES Daniel Barrett, Dan Lemmon, Joe Letteri, Joel Whist

Will win/Should win: War For the Planet of the Apes

BRITISH SHORT ANIMATION
HAVE HEART Will Anderson
MAMOON Ben Steer
POLES APART Paloma Baeza, Ser En Low

BRITISH SHORT FILM
AAMIR Vika Evdokimenko, Emma Stone, Oliver Shuster
COWBOY DAVE Colin O’Toole, Jonas Mortense
A DROWNING MAN Mahdi Fleifel, Signe Byrge Sørensen, Patrick Campbell
WORK Aneil Karia, Scott O’Donnell
WREN BOYS Harry Lighton, Sorcha Bacon, John Fitzpatrick

EE RISING STAR AWARD (voted for by the public)
DANIEL KALUUYA
FLORENCE PUGH
JOSH O’CONNOR
TESSA THOMPSON
TIMOTHÉE CHALAMET

Will win: Josh O'Connor
Should win: Timothee Chalamet

Saturday, February 17, 2018

27 Days of Oscar, Day 12: Foreign Film, Queer Cinema and my Oscar playlist



It's time for a big deep breath before the final push. The Oscars are in 2 weeks and 1 day. It's hard to believe. We're going to take a look at what I still have left to see, but before we do that I want to talk a bit about the two pieces I finished in the last few days.

The first is my essay on "Call Me By Your Name." It began as a journey through the queer films that have influenced me over the years, but as I began to write, it turned into something else, as often happens. It was important for me to explore why "Call Me By Your Name" has made such an impact on my life. I discovered through the process that I'm certainly not alone. There are people out there who don't quite understand the film or seem to bring negative past experiences to how they watch (or not watch in some cases) and interpret the film which has lead them to manipulate what Guadagnino, Aciman and the cast actually created. I get it. If you read my piece, and I hope you will, you will see that I did the same thing. How can we not bring our past into our interpretation of art. It's impossible. 

I also needed to explore a few relationships I had in my past. One which made a huge impact on me over the course of 15 years, and the other a single night. Love and Heartbreak - from "Beautiful Thing" to "Call Me By Your Name" is my most personal piece to date.

So much was on the cutting room floor, so to speak, but I hope to publish a follow up piece with more excerpts from my interviews with Peter Spears and Timothee Chalamet at some point. Although it might be post Oscars.

Check it out:

I also finished up my piece on the Foreign Language Film category. It's in the hands of my friend/editor Ryan over at Awards Daily. Once it's published, I will certainly let you know.

The past few years when writing about Foreign Language Film for Awards Daily, I find myself more interested in what theme might travel through the films than predicting what might win or telling you the ones I like/dislike. This year was no exception. I do have my favorites, but I think I will wait until that piece is live to go into all that.

Yesterday I also voted on the Film Independent Spirit Awards. That was such a pleasure. There were so many incredible films I probably wouldn't have seen otherwise such as "Columbus" and "Oh Lucy!" I didn't end up seeing "Life and Nothing More" so I didn't end up voting for Best Female Lead. But that's ok.

It felt good to cast my votes for "Call Me By Your Name" for Best Feature, Director, Male Lead, Supporting Male, Cinematography and Editing. I honestly wasn't sure I was going to vote for Armie until I wrote my recent piece. It's such a fantastic performance. All those walls and masks...they are intentional and when they come off, in one of the final scenes in the hotel room...it's brilliant.

Sayombhu Mukdeeprom's cinematography is so stunning and Walter Fasono's editing is very underrated and to vote for them was a treat. Interestingly enough, James Ivory, who will more than likely win the Oscar wasn't nominated for the Spirit.

Now...Let's take a look at the films I have yet to see that are nominated for the Oscars. There will be two things happening over the next two weeks. I will be handicapping each category once I've seen all the nominees and discussing the films I am watching. These are the categories I have already completed:

Picture
Director
Actress
Supporting Actor
Supporting Actress
Cinematography
Editing
Original Score
Sound Editing
Sound Mixing
Original Screenplay

Not bad...I might hit Sound Editing and Sound Mixing tomorrow.

That means there are several categories I am missing films. Those films are:

Roman J. Israel, Esq
The Boss Baby
The Breadwinner
Ferdinand
Loving Vincent
Beauty and the Beast
Marshall
Kong: Skull Island
Logan
Abacus: Small Enough to Jail
Faces Places
Icarus
Last Men in Aleppo
Strong Island
15 shorts

14 features and 15 shorts with 15 days left to go. The only one I'm struggling getting my hands on is "Faces Places." There's always one, but had you told me that would be the one I couldn't seem to get my hands on I wouldn't have believed you.

SO...I think I will watch "The Breadwinner" and one other film tonight, and tomorrow I'll get into the sound categories and give you my BAFTA predictions.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

27 Days of Oscar, Day 10: Finishing up the Spirit Award noms (First Feature, Supporting Male/Female); a brief look at BP


Hello readers! It may seem as if I have been on some sort of hiatus the past few days, but that isn't the case. I've been furiously attempting to watch as many of the films nominated for the Film Independent Spirit Awards as well as completing my piece on Queer Cinema for Awards Daily.

As soon as AD publishes the piece I will make sure to share it with you. In the meantime, head over to GQ and read the profile on Timothee Chalamet. It's more than likely the only piece you'll read this season longer than mine!  As often happens, my essay evolved from what I had originally intended, but I was able to explore something very important to me, obsession and the movies.

For the Spirits, I still need to watch "Beatriz at Dinner" along with "Life and Nothing More" and then I can vote tomorrow.

I'm so glad that I decided to watch both "Ingrid Goes West" and "Pattie Cake$" because now I can vote on Best First Feature. All 5 films really inspired me to know that a first outing can be a great one. First off, let me say that "Patti Cake$" was great. Everyone is wonderful, particularly Patti herself, Danielle Macdonald and Bridget Everett as Barb. That last song/scene was so good! How was that not nominated for Best Original Song! Well...it's a really tight category. It's so sad that the "story" behind Fox Searchlight's Sundance purchase of the film, the marketing and the box office "failure" completely overshadowed the film. I'm so very glad that it got this nomination.

Did I talk about "Ingrid Goes West" yet? I don't think so...Well, I can tell you this. That scene in the beginning when she is scrolling through Instagram with tears of insanity running down her face...well...I get it. Just this morning I was saying a little prayer to separate my phone from my hand. We live in a world today where one like on a post or a text from someone can trigger a fantasy world in our heads. At least in my head. It's not real. And people who live in cyber worlds alone aren't real either. And "Ingrid" nails that. In a funny, scary and touching way.

Figuring out which of the films nominated for Best First Feature is really difficult. My favorite is "Oh Lucy!" I found it to be absolutely brilliant. It more than likely would've cracked my Top 20 had I seen it in time.

Film Independent's membership is broad. They (we!) might go with "Ingrid Goes West." Although it was one of the last ones I watched, I'm guessing the majority of members watched it first. Last year's winner was "The Witch." Did they award it because it was the film that made the biggest box office splash? Not sure.

BEST FIRST FEATURE

Columbus
Ingrid Goes West
Menashe
Oh Lucy!
Patti Cake$

Will win: Ingrid Goes West
Should win: Oh Lucy!
Spoiler...hmmm...probably Patti Cake$

Yesterday I also watched "Crown Heights" the story of Colin Warner, who served 20+ years in prison for a crime he didn't commit. Lakeith Stanfield ("Get Out," "Atlanta") is great as Colin, aging 20 years on screen.  Nnamdi Asomugha is up for Supporting Male. Honestly, I don't quite understand this nomination. He was fine, but to not nominate Michael Stuhlbarg. It's odd. And up against the other 4 nominees he looks very out of place.

The Spirits don't always award those also nominated for Oscars. Last year Casey Affleck did win, despite past sexual harassment allegations (he certainly wouldn't win this year) but he gave what I consider last year's best performance. Isabelle Huppert won for lead despite being up against Oscar nominees Ruth Negga and Natalie Portman.

It could really go many ways. I want to say it will be Armie, but I think it's my love for the film blinding me. I think it will be either Barry Keoghan or Sam Rockwell. With Benny Safdie and Armie Hammer on the edge. Sorry Nnamdi.

BEST SUPPORTING MALE

Nnamdi Asomugha, Crown Heights
Armie Hammer, Call Me by Your Name
Barry Keoghan, The Killing of a Sacred Deer
Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Benny Safdie, Good Time

Will win: (THIS IS HARD!) Barry Keoghan, The Killing of a Sacred Deer
Should win: Armie Hammer
SPOILER: Sam Rockwell, Benny Safdie

For supporting female it's really a two way race, yet again. I think Holly Hunter is great in "The Big Sick." Lois Smith is good in "Marjorie Prime," but I honestly hated the film. Taliah Lennice Webster is good in "Good Time," but it's almost a forgettable performance next to Benny Safdie and Robert Pattinson, not to mention our frontrunners, Laurie Metcalf and Allison Janney. 

I will say this...I do love that the Spirits nominated smaller performances. The only time the Oscars nominate a "small" performance is when it's Judi Dench or Jack Palance, and they obviously can win as well.

I'm going with Metcalf.

BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE

Holly Hunter, The Big Sick
Allison Janney, I, Tonya
Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
Lois Smith, Marjorie Prime
Taliah Lennice Webster, Good Time

Will win: Laurie Metcalf
Should win: Hmmm...this is a tough one. I'm honestly not over the moon with any of these performances. Probably Holly Hunter
Spoiler: Allison Janney or Lois Smith

Next up will be my piece on the Foreign Film race. I hope to get that over to Ryan at AD by the end of day tomorrow, so don't expect another 27 Days piece until Saturday.

I luckily have a great jumping off point thanks to "On Body and Soul" director Ildiko Enyedi. In that conversation she said something quite profound to me. "We don't accept each other...or like each other." I was so struck by this that I wrote it down even though I was recording the chat. That's a theme in all 5 nominated films and something I can't wait to explore.

On Saturday, it's Oscar time. I'm so very glad that I joined Film Independent and was able to break out of my Oscar comfort zone. It will certainly make March 3rd's show even more exciting, but it's time to get down to business. It's also been nice to somewhat avoid the inevitable, predicting what will win. If you look at Best Picture alone, there seems to be a case for 6 films! Remember when it was 4?

I need to keep in mind that my initial feelings on Best Picture are generally right. Back in October it seemed as if it was between "The Shape of Water" or "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri."

Now, there is a case for "Get Out" (I was on that bandwagon at one point), "Dunkirk" (the most "likeable" of the bunch, it now seems), "Lady Bird" (this one was the likeable one, now it's the one directed by a woman...jeez...these sort of labels are why I sometimes hate Phase 2!), even "Call Me By Your Name" (finally! You know I think this is the best film of the year.) I know that "Three Billboards" is missing a director nomination, but it will probably win the BAFTA awards on Sunday, unless the tides have truly shifted to "The Shape of Water."

Anyway, predictions are going to be all over the place this year. And that's fine.



Monday, February 12, 2018

27 Days of Oscar, Day 7: WGA, Scripter Awards and an Oxford Film Festival post mortem


It's Monday morning, and the 15th annual Oxford Film Festival is over.

It's hard to put into words exactly what I'm feeling about it right now. For one thing, it is such an honor and a great responsibility to program for this fest, particularly the LGBTQ section. At the Awards Ceremony on Saturday night, when juror Brighid Wheeler talked about the importance of this category as we continue to fight against homophobic legislation I found myself quite overwhelmed. I am so proud of the films that we showed. So proud.

Did Oxford come out and support us? Kind of. The jury winner, "Boys For Sale" is a remarkably honest look at what it means to be a male sex worker in Japan. It is entertaining, graphic, truthful, thought-provoking...everything you want in a documentary about prostitution. And at it's second screening there were less than 10 people in attendance.

At the second screening of "Between the Shades," we had a somewhat larger audience than at the first, which was unfortunately at the same time as the Awards Ceremony VIP party (hard to pass up free food/booze for a documentary about what it means to be LGBTQ, I guess), but this was even after multiple pleas to all the gay leaders I know to come out and support this important block of films.  Multiple FB and twitter posts, an article at the Daily Mississippi Online, a request to my friends to share that article (it was shared twice) and a 50% off discount code. Those Queer leaders not only posted multiple posts on social media, but they were in attendance for which I am very grateful.

Sure, the LGBTQ shorts were (mostly) full, same with "Alaska is a Drag," the narrative feature, but why not the others? I know Oxford is full of LGBTQ folks and allies, particularly at the University. Do they understand that the fight is not over? Do they see enough representation today on television and in feature films such as "Call Me By Your Name" that they don't feel the urge to come out for something like this? Maybe they are actually taking the fight to the Capital and I'm the one who is out of touch trying to fight the battle at a film festival.

Next year we hope to expand this category. I don't want to have to change the films we show to bring out a larger audience. Am I wrong not to want to meet the masses where they are but to instead bring the audience to us? It's something to think about over the next few months.

Now that the festival is over, I have a busy 3 weeks ahead. First off, before the Spirit Awards voting deadline I hope to watch the following:

Patti Cake$
The Lovers
Beatriz at Dinner
Life and Nothing More
Crown Heights

Not too bad considering I have 5 days, right? Well, I also need to finish my piece on Queer Cinema (that will happen by tomorrow) and start/finish my foreign film piece. It can happen. It will happen.

This weekend we had our two writing precursors, the Writers Guild Awards and the USC Scripter Awards. As was expected, "Call Me By Your Name" won both of its categories, along with the novel's author, Andre' Aciman at the Scripter Awards. Next up are the BAFTAs. It's up against "Molly's Game," "The Death of Stalin," and "Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool." I'm guessing it will win. It's not nominated for the Independent Spirit Awards.

Then the Oscars. If it loses, I will be shocked. And very disappointed. Many of us who think the film should win Best Picture and Best Actor are putting all of our eggs in that basket. It will be a devastating loss.

"Get Out" won the Original Screenplay award. I was in the minority predicting "Lady Bird," and to be honest, I'm shocked. I do think "Get Out" deserves to win, but if things continue along this path, "Lady Bird" will go home empty handed. Unless Laurie Metcalf surprises in Supporting Actress. Which could happen. Now that Lesley Manville is in the race for "Phantom Thread" anything is possible.

I said yesterday that I don't see the connection of Screenplay to Picture. But I also said "Lady Bird" would win screenplay. So, what do I know? Could "Get Out" win Best Picture at the Oscars? It would be an incredible win. Something to really think about over the next few weeks.


Saturday, February 10, 2018

27 Days of Oscar, Day 5: catching up on the Spirits, WGA (and Best Picture) and Scripter previews


Oxford Film Festival continues on, and so do the 27 Days of Oscar.

If you're in Oxford, please go out and see the remaining LGBTQ films playing at the festival. "Alaska is a Drag" plays at today, Saturday, the 10th 5:45PM and "Between the Shades" plays at 8:00PM (with an encore screening tomorrow, Sunday the 11th at 5:00PM).

Despite the film festival, I managed to watch 2 Spirit Award nominated films today. "Oh Lucy" and "Marjorie Prime." I also made what may turn out to be a foolish decision to finish watching the Best First Feature Spirit Awards nominees.

That means, in addition to the 4 remaining films I planned to watch before next Friday's voting deadline I will add "Ingrid Goes West" and "Patti Cake$." Interestingly enough, those were two films I was beyond excited to see at one point or another, but as the awards race began to weigh down on me, I had decided they weren't necessary. Such a strange beast awards season.

I began the day with "Oh Lucy!" starring Shinobu Terajima, Josh Hartnett, Kaho Minami and directed by Atsuko Hirayanagi. It is nominated for Best First Feature and Best Female Lead. Described at IMDB: A lonely woman living in Tokyo decides to take an English class where she discovers her alter ego, Lucy. The lonely woman is played remarkably by Shinobu Terajima and the teacher is Josh Hartnett, also fantastic. The film is funny, heartbreaking, beautifully shot and wildly entertaining. Check out the trailer:




Next was "Marjorie Prime" a very unusual, somewhat daring, and moderately well acted film that I found incredibly boring. Lois Smith is nominated for Supporting Female for playing a woman near the end of her life who is able to communicate with a computerized younger version of her dead husband. That's not where the communication with the dead ends, but I won't spoil that here. Needless to say, as lovely as Lois Smith is, neither she nor her costars: Jon Hamm, Geena Davis and Tim Robbins can elevate the material, and the director Michael Almereyda can't quite take these actors from good to great. Perhaps it worked better as a play.



Tonight there are two more Oscar precursor awards (some of the last as we continue into Phase 2), the Writers Guild Awards and the Scripter Awards.

Here are the WGA nominees. Remember, "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" was not eligible.

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

The Big Sick, Written by Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani; Amazon Studios
Get Out, Written by Jordan Peele; Universal Pictures
I, Tonya, Written by Steven Rogers; Neon
Lady Bird, Written by Greta Gerwig; A24
The Shape of Water, Screenplay by Guillermo del Toro & Vanessa Taylor; Story by Guillermo del Toro; Fox Searchlight

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Call Me by Your Name, Screenplay by James Ivory; Based on the Novel by André Aciman; Sony Pictures Classics
The Disaster Artist, Screenplay by Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber; Based on the Book The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside the Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made by Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell; A24
Logan, Screenplay by Scott Frank & James Mangold and Michael Green; Story by James Mangold; Based on Characters from the X-Men Comic Books and Theatrical Motion Pictures; Twentieth Century Fox Film
Molly's Game, Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin; Based on the Book by Molly Bloom; STX Entertainment
Mudbound, Screenplay by Virgil Williams and Dee Rees; Based on the Novel by Hillary Jordan; Netflix

DOCUMENTARY SCREENPLAY

Betting on Zero, Written by Theodore Braun; Gunpowder & Sky
Jane, Written by Brett Morgen; National Geographic
No Stone Unturned, Written by Alex Gibney; Abramorama
Oklahoma City, Written by Barak Goodman; American Experience Films

Many sites are declaring tonight's Original Screenplay award and the Original Screenplay Oscar to be a strong predictor of what might win Best Picture. I am not on board with this quite yet.

Here's the thing. I think "Lady Bird" is going to win tonight, and although I'm not quite ready to declare "The Shape of Water" winning Best Picture, I simply can't see "Lady Bird" taking the Best Picture Oscar when it has won almost nothing other than the Globe for BP Comedy.

One thing to keep in mind..."Lady Bird" has had plenty of chances to win. It wasn't a late breaking film like "The Post" or "Phantom Thread." I think it has the strongest chance to win the WGA award tonight, and I'm feeling Greta Gerwig will also take home Original Screenplay at the Oscars. And that will be the only award the film wins, which means that "Get Out" will more than likely go home empty handed on Oscar night, unless something really wild happens and Daniel Kaluuya wins Best Actor due to a Gary Oldman/Timothee Chalamet split.

If "The Shape of Water" or even "Get Out" wins tonight, that will mean more in terms of Best Picture than if "Lady Bird" does.

If "Call Me By Your Name" loses, well, I'm not sure what it will mean for Oscar, but it will most certainly get ugly here at Awards Wiz.

For documentary, I'm guessing "Jane."

I wish I could be at the Scripter awards tonight. Remember, the Scripters award not only the screenplay but the material on which the screenplay is based. As a huge fan of "Call Me By Your Name," the film and the novel, I hope very much they award it the prize. It has some tough competition though with both "Wonder Woman" and "Logan," especially when you take into account the source material, but I believe they will more than likely count each other out. Again, if "Call Me By Your Name" loses...not good.

USC Scripter Nominees

FILM ADAPTATION

Call Me By Your Name
(Sony Pictures Classics and Picador)
Screenwriter James Ivory and author Andreì Aciman

The Disaster Artist
(A24 and Simon & Schuster)
Screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber and authors Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell for their nonfiction book The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside ‘The Room,’ the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made”

Logan

(20th Century Fox and Marvel Comics)
Screenwriters Scott Frank, Michael Green and James Mangold, and authors Roy Thomas, Len Wein and John Romita Sr.

The Lost City of Z
(Amazon Studios and Simon & Schuster)
Screenwriter James Gray and author David Grann

Molly’s Game
(STX Entertainment and Dey Street Books)
Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin and author Molly Bloom

Mudbound

(Netflix and Algonquin Books)
Screenwriters Virgil Williams and Dee Rees and author Hillary Jordan

Wonder Woman

(Warner Bros. and DC Comics)
Screenwriter Allan Heinberg and author William Moulton Marston


Friday, February 9, 2018

Oxford Film Festival - LGBTQ section (yes...this is a rehash, I'm busy, y'all!!)


I'll get back to writing about the Oscars tomorrow. So many exciting things happening at the film festival today. "Boys For Sale" is screening at 1:00PM, "Alaska is a Drag" will be at 4:15 and the LGBTQ shorts will be screening for the one and only time tonight at 6:45PM. If you are in Oxford and are either LGBTQ or one of our allies, please come out!!!

So, here's a bit of a rehash from a piece I wrote a few days ago.

I have the immense pleasure of programming the LGBTQ section of the fest, which includes "Between the Shades," directed by Jill Salvino, "Boys For Sale," directed by Itako and "Alaska is a Drag" written and directed by Shaz Bennett. There is also a great selection of shorts. Descriptions and trailers are below.

If you are in the Oxford area, please take advantage of the discount code, "OutOxford" for discounted tickets. $6! Let's fill the theater and show Oxford and Mississippi that we're here, we're queer, we're...you know what I'm saying....

Check out the info on the LGBTQ films at Oxford Film Festival here:

Between the Shades
BUY TICKETS HERE!
Sat, Feb 10, 2018 8:00 PM
Sun, Feb 11, 2018 5:00 PM

Between the Shades seeks to put faces to the letters that make up LGBTQI and how those letters have evolved. The film examines the immense power of labels and the transcendence of love. Director Jill Salvino invited fifty people, each with a connection to the LGBTQI community to begin a conversation by sharing their stories for this film that Premiered at The Soho Film Festival and became an audience favorite and finalist for best documentary. Between the Shades features many voices, among them: Beth Malone (of Broadway’s Fun Home), actress Kathy Najimy and Democratic National Committee Treasurer Andrew Tobias. No film can ever capture the immense diversity of the LGBTQI community, but it didn’t stop us from trying. At the end of the day, everyone just wants to be loved.

Between the Shades - Final Trailer for 2017 SoHo FF from Jill Salvino on Vimeo.

Boys for Sale
BUY TICKETS HERE!
Fri, Feb 9, 2018 1:00 PM
Sat, Feb 10, 2018 12:45 PM

Boys are selling sex in Japan. Who is buying?
In the Tokyo district of Shinjuku 2-chome there are bars that specialize in “Urisen”, young guys who have sex with men. Featuring candid interviews and interspersed with animation detailing the awkward, sweet, and sometimes horrific situations these young sex workers experience, the boys for sale boldly tell their stories of life in the Tokyo underground. This documentary is an illuminating look into a rarely seen world that tantalizingly shows the humanity of sex work.

Sununu: The Revolution of Live (playing with Boys for Sale)

Transgender Dad, Fernando Machado, became an international news sensation when he announced he was pregnant with his trans girlfriend Diane Rodriguez in Ecuador - this is the love story of that family. Directed by Olivia Crellin


Alaska is a Drag
BUY TICKETS HERE!
Fri, Feb 9, 2018 4:15 PM
Sat, Feb 10, 2018 5:45 PM

ALASKA IS A DRAG is a Fish out of water story – literally. Our hero Leo is an aspiring superstar (Martin L. Washington Jr.) stuck working in a fish cannery in Alaska. Leo sees disco balls in the scales of the fish he slices. Everyone who slices fish all day, daydreams – Leo’s are glamtastic. 
 
Most of the time, Leo and his twin sister Tristen (Maya Washington) are left to fend for themselves. To escape the monotony of fist fights and fish guts, they create their own magic – the Northern Lights follow them.
 
They hang out at the one gay bar in a hundred miles, owned by their surly surrogate mom – Jan (Margaret Cho). Their real mom (Nia Peeples) left years ago and their dad George (Kevin Daniels) preaches on the side of the road. 

After years of getting beat up by his former best friend, Kyle (Christopher O'Shea), Leo has learned to fight back – his skills catch the eye of his cannery boss, an amateur boxer (Jason Scott Lee) who offers to train him to be a fighter. And when the new kid in town, Declan (Matt Dallas), wants to be his sparring partner – Leo’s world turns upside down.
 
When Tristen enters Leo in a drag competition – he's never performed for anyone but her – his worlds collide – the drag audition falls on the same day as the qualifying round for boxing and Leo has to face the real reason, he's afraid to leave Alaska.

Fishy

Fishy is a short animated film about a man stranded in the middle of the ocean who is saved in more ways than one by a mystical sea creature. This animation brings attention to the complicated process a parent goes through while accepting that their child may not fit into the dreams their parents once held for them. Directed by Joseph Sulsenti.

Lady Eva

An intrepid young transgender woman in the South Pacific Kingdom of Tonga sets off to become her true self - with a little help from Tina Turner along the way. Directed by Dean Hamer, Joe Wilson & Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu.



LGBTQ Shorts 
BUY TICKETS HERE
Friday, February 9th 6:45PM

The Cleanse (OFF Alum)
Director: Lucas Omar

The Queer Clique loves fresh meat. Newbie Kayden must complete the sacred initiation: The Cleanse. No food. No sex. Just juice. Let the cravings begin. Regional Premiere

Dusk (OFF Alum)
Director: Jake Graf

Growing up in 1950s England in an intolerant and uninformed world, young Chris Winters struggles to fit into the gender roles dictated by wider society. Mississippi Premiere

Haygood Eats!

Director: Hazart

Tim & Joy Haygood are the reigning almost "celebrities" of their small southern town. In a series of leaked outtakes from Magic City Productions, the curtain is lifted on the disastrous attempt at a commercial from Joy & Tim Haygood's catering company. Mississippi Premiere.

How to Make a Pearl

Director: Jason Hanasik

For the last ten years, John Kapellas has lived in complete darkness. Allergic to the entire spectrum of light, Kapellas' doctors have tried a myriad of drugs to give him more time in the light. When one of the drugs' side effects made him “go nuts,” Kapellas found a creative way to calm his mind. Regional Premiere

Spark
Director: Aharonit Elior

A girl finds someone to spark her flame. World Premiere

Sununú: The Revolution of Love
Director: Olivia Crellin

Transgender dad, Fernando Machado, became an international news sensation when he announced he was pregnant with his trans girlfriend Diane Rodriguez in Ecuador. This is the love story of that family. Mississippi Premiere.

The Third Movement
Director: Josephine Anderson

World-renowned transgender classical pianist, Sara Davis Buechner lost a flourishing New York career after transitioning from male to female. The Third Movement is an intimate documentary portrait that explores Sara’s yearning to earn back her spot on the world stage. As Sara dreams about a comeback, she helps guide the next generation of piano greats on their rise to the top. The film is a creative and nuanced depiction of an artist who demonstrates unrelenting determination in the face of trans-targeted discrimination. United States Premiere

3 Friends

Director: Michael Moody Culpepper

Based on a Colm Tóibín short story, Fergus, a pensive, young Irishman, is propelled on a powerful journey. At his mother’s funeral and wake, Fergus confronts how his family shapes and defines him. He continues this journey at a beach rave, becoming aware of ways his friends define him. Ultimately, through death, grief, joy, and sex, Fergus defines himself. Regional Premiere

Waffles
Director: Foster Wilson

A young, gay millennial discovers she's slept with the enemy and has to choose between swallowing her pride and standing by her principles. Mississippi Premiere.


Wednesday, February 7, 2018

27 Days of Oscar, Day 2: Reality Check and Dreamland (Interviewing Timothee, Ruben, Ildiko and Ziad!)


Before I get to the hard cold truth of what I can feasibly watch before the voting deadline for the Independent Spirit Awards I want to chat about the incredible experience I had yesterday interviewing not only Timothee Chalamet, but also three of the nominated foreign film directors.

First of all, I didn't think it would actually happen, not smoothly at least. If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter I posted a snapshot of my calendar, and it was tight. Luckily Ruben Ostlund was running a bit behind, so there was no real mishap. Other than the fact that after checking multiple times that my ringer was on I missed Ziad Doueiri's first call because I had my phone on do not disturb.

Alas, it was fine in the end.

What poses a challenge with these interviews is the fact that they've been asked certain questions a gazillion times. So, it's up to me to make it more interesting or go a bit deeper. For example, am I really going to ask Timothee about the peach scene? Again? Probably not, but when I asked him about the final shot by the fire, I prefaced it with the fact that I knew he did 3 takes and that director Luca Guadagnino asked him to be more reserved in the beginning, "let them in" a bit more in the middle take and let loose in the third. (That's paraphrasing, btw) So I asked him for more. What was he actually thinking in that shot? I told him what I saw and we connected his process to my perception. It was an incredible conversation.

I asked him about LGBTQ cinema and what Queer films impacted him over the years. We talked about the audiences of the film...including what it was like to watch it here in Mississippi. I was able to ask him (something I don't recall anyone else asking) if he had considered Elio's sexuality and whether or not it mattered.

One of the biggest takeaways included how he utilized the Andre Aciman's book on set, not going to spoil that here!

I also, thanks to my friend Amy's suggestion, asked him about a scene near the end where a drunk Elio and Oliver stumble upon a trio of 80s beatniks listening to the very song they had danced to earlier in the film and what Elio was thinking as he had to watch the man he loved, yet again dance with a woman instead of him.

It was a great conversation, and I can't wait to put it down for you to read over at Awards Daily.

The conversations with the directors of the foreign films did not disappoint as well.  Ziad Doueiri talked quite openly about the residual resentment and conflict from the civil war between the Lebanese Christians and the Palestinians and how something similar is happening today in the US and Brittain. He gave me his cell phone number and told me to call anytime if I had any more questions. Always a good sign.

Ruben Ostlund, who seeming a bit exhausted, and I discussed how "The Square" came about from an art installation he co-created. Nothing he hasn't discussed before. We did talk much about the pacing of the film and the editing process, which was fascinating.

And finally I had a very moving conversation with "On Body and Soul" director Ildiko Enyedi, the only woman nominated in this category, about the reasons it took 18 years between this and her last feature film, the medium of television and the humor that was necessary to balance out the pain we are viewing on screen. FYI: "On Body and Soul" is now available on Netflix.

That piece will be published soon after the Queer Cinema piece. Much, much to do!

NOW...let's get real. I considered watching "Ingrid Goes West" last night (nominated for a couple of Spirit Awards) but realized that I had yet to finish "The Killing of a Sacred Deer." I did that and was exhausted afterwards. With the Oxford Film Festival beginning tonight I don't think I'll be able to watch an Oscary movie until Sunday morning. MAYBE Saturday.

So, considering the fact that I need to write and go to my job (the one where I actually get paid!) I think I will be able to watch 4, 5 movies max before the Spirit Awards voting deadline. SO...that means this. I won't be able to vote in a several categories (Best First Feature, for instance) because I want to vote on Screenplay, Female Lead, Supporting Female and Supporting Male. Therefore my honest Spirit Playlist is this:

The Lovers
Beatriz at Dinner
Life and Nothing More
Marjorie Prime
Crown Heights
Oh Lucy

That's 6! Oh, Oscars Phase 2! You are a nasty, nasty lover.

27 Days of Oscar, Day 17: Fighting the queer fight and Production Design

Reading that headline makes me laugh a bit. "Fighting the queer fight and Production Design." Not quite the perfect combination...